Lunar Observer records upcoming dates of interest: holidays, birthdays, best day to cut hair.
Without taking energy away from the necessary calls to action, to call your senator, to love your neighbor, etc., this part of January is a great time to watch a movie. It’s cold out, and it’s been cold out long enough that being cozy and warm is very gratifying, and if you’re the type to do seasonal outdoor stuff, you probably maxed out on those activities by this point anyway. It’s a great time to call a friend, put a movie on, and sink into it for 90 minutes. Drugs are optional. Hollywood is a drug.
I can’t recommend any specific movie, because I have no idea who you are or what your situation is. I had an idea the other day for a horoscope column / account that gives you a list of movies to watch, but that’s outside my wheelhouse. I don’t know anything about horoscopes. If someone wants to run with this idea, go ahead. Shoot me a couple bucks sometime, an amount commensurate with your enterprise. That’s all I ask. Something well within my power and expertise of recommending is a salty snack to accompany the movie. It’s called popcorn.
Popcorn is a warm snack food produced from corn, AKA maize, which is a starchy grain native to the Americas. Other grains can be popped but require more equipment, whereas the popcorn experience can be perfected in a stove-top environment.
Here’s my method:
Ingredients: popcorn, olive oil, spices (I recommend salt)
Tools: medium-sized saucepan with lid, stove-top environment, large bowl or clean paper bag
Almost cover the bottom of the saucepan with one layer of popcorn kernels — not more than one layer. No crowd-surfing! It should look like Beatlemania, not like Woodstock ’99.
Just about cover the kernels with olive oil, not so they’re swimming in it but so they’re just about covered. Swoosh them around with your hand — it’s essential to this recipe that each kernel of popcorn has olive oil covering its entire surface.
Put the lid on, put the stove on medium. The pan goes on the stove. I’m not sure if I have to say that.
Be patient and soon enough you will hear the sound of popping. Do not remove the lid to look at it or for any reason while cooking. Leave the lid on. In an ideal situation, all the popcorn would pop at once in a single celebratory blast, but no situation is ideal, and even this all-at-once situation isn’t “ideal” qua “perfectly pleasant.” It’s nice to hear them all pop separately. That’s something we might wish for if it weren’t the case already. Anyway, if all is done accordingly, it should start popping and the amount of popping should increase at a steady rate.
This recipe includes finesse points, which maybe people don’t want to read in a recipe setting, but they are important. The presence of finesse points indicates that you may not get a perfect batch of popcorn your first time trying this method. This is true. There’s no sense in beating about the bush — you will need to finesse. You may find that accruing finesse over repeated instances is rewarding. If so then I would say you have a Good Attitude. If not then I have no advice other than recognize that the Earth is a school, that lessons learned in the popcorn realm can be applied in other settings, and that competence is something that is both earned and sexy.
Do not focus on getting all the kernels to pop.
The first finesse point here is that you should sort of shake the pan so they don’t burn. If the oil ratio is correct, and your heat is correct (again, medium), it’s technically possible to get a maximum yield of popped kernels before the first one that popped has had time to burn. But it wouldn’t hurt to give it a lil shake now and again, especially as the pop progresses, to let the unpopped kernels sink to the bottom and the popped kernels rise to the top.
The second finesse point is internal rather than external. It’s a finesse of your own mind — to achieve perfection, disavow perfection. Do not focus on getting all the kernels to pop. Focusing on the 100 percent pop will result in burning the popcorn, setting off the fire alarm, standing on a chair, taking out the battery... No bueno. Your goal is to pop most of them, or all the ones that aren’t unpoppable duds. When you’re eating them, just don’t eat the duds. “They should’ve all popped” — I’m sorry but should’ve and would’ve are words we don’t use / they make us feel bad / they give us the blues.
When the pops are coming at a significantly lowered rate, immediately transfer to a waiting bowl or large clean paper bag. Some may pop and fly out into the kitchen as you’re pouring them into the bowl — that’s good luck.
Season while piping hot and shake to coat evenly. For seasoning I recommend just salt. My friend Cool Breeze used to always do salt, nutritional yeast, and dill. That is very delicious and to me, nostalgic. Nutritional yeast is an expensive lab-grown yellow dust and good source of Vitamin B, available where vegans shop. It produces a nutty semi-parmesan flavor. If you’re reading an in-depth recipe for how to make popcorn, it’s likely you have your own ability to recommend seasonings, so I’ll abstain, except to once again say that just salt is very good. Also pouring milk and maple syrup over a small bowl of hot popcorn and eating it like cereal seems crazy but is very nice, especially if the movie is somewhat fantastical or produces a child-like feeling.
Don’t eat all the popcorn before the movie starts. It’s okay to pause the movie to make more popcorn. It’s your house.
The best days this week to cut your hair, if you want it to grow nice and healthy, are the 10th and 11th.
Jacob Khepler is the main writer and publisher of Mothers News. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.